Do Something Different

File:New year's eve.svgIf you want something different, do something different.  That’s the word I received tonight. A call to action that can’t be ignored heading into the new year.

What do you want to be different in 2014? What are you going to do different to get it?

Three Expectations for the New Year -> These Can’t be Your Resolutions

Universal-ExpectationsExpectations are not rewarded, they’re punished. I made a good case for this in my article on the topic you can read here.

So this means you can’t use something that’s expected of you as a New Year’s Resolution.  New Year’s Resolutions must start with something beyond expectations to be meaningful.  Otherwise, why would you wait until the New Year to declare something you must work on every day to survive.

With that said, here are the baseline universal expectations.  Make sure none of these show up as one of your resolutions, and instead are part of your daily habits.

1. Exercising

 

2. Eating Right

 

3. Being Happy

Entrepreneurship as Art

jerry_pinkney_lionandmouse
Jerry Pinkney’s Lion and Mouse Art

Today I enjoyed a day at the museum with my family. There I came across a fascinating quote about art:

The act of artistic creation is a bit like looking at oneself in the mirror and leaving the reflection behind.

This quote was pulled from an inscription on the Jerry Pinkney exhibition at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art (a must see showing until 1/5/14).

From my vantage point, entrepreneurship is very close to what this quote describes. The best entrepreneurs pour every bit of themselves into the process of designing a business model and serving customers. It’s often a reflection of the entrepreneur’s personal taste and character.

Marketing genius Seth Godin talks about entrepreneurship as art often. He has a few pithy blog post on the topic you can sample here and here.

Thinking of your business as art will inspire you.  It will allow you to open your mind to a canvas that you have complete creative control over.

Idea Hacking: 2013’s Largest Industries by Market Cap

In my previous post you learned that industries are more important than ideas. If you haven’t read that, please read it here before you continue.

My main thesis in that industries are critical to your success or failure as an entrepreneur. So when searching for an idea, you should start with the industry first. To help you out, below is a list of the largest industries ranked by market cap on Yahoo Finance:

2013’s Largest Industries by Market Cap:

Largest Industries by Market Cap:
2013’s Largest Industries by Market Cap on Yahoo Finance

Industries are more important than Ideas

File:Glass ideas.jpgOn the one hand, there is the school of thought that believes the “idea” is king. On the other hand, there is the school of thought that believes that ideas are worthless.

As with many things, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Ideas are neither king nor worthless.

The value of an idea is directly proportional to the industry that idea is applied. As a result, the industry you choose to apply your entrepreneurial passion is more important than the idea you take to market.

The reason behind this is simple, ideas are destined to evolve if not flat out change once it’s time to grow the business.

So if you take the right entrepreneurs, with the right idea in the wrong industry, you will find them ultimately failing.

Conversely, if you take those same entrepreneurs with the wrong idea in the right industry, you will find that they’re able to easily iterate on their idea to become successful.

So the next time you’re brainstorming entrepreneurial ventures, start with researching industries before you start researching ideas.

Daily blogging as a tool to create memories

File:ThinkingMan Rodin.jpgEveryday we wake up, live life, then go to sleep. So what’s the difference between the days we remember and the days we forget?

The obvious answer is something out of the ordinary. Something unique that happens. Something that differentiates the memorable days from all other days.

The challenge with this is that by definition, 99% of the days we live in our life are not out of the ordinary, they’re not unique, and nothing differentiates them from any other normal day. So that leaves us only remembering a small percentage of all the time we live on this earth.

Your small percentage of memories are not a good representation of who you are. Your personality is made up of millions of events, conversations, and observations that made an impact, but did not make a memory.

For me, this is where the daily blog comes in.  When you write a daily blog you’re forced to touch, feel, and smell every moment of your life to find writing inspiration. As a result, many moments that would normally be lost into the bowels of the ordinary get resurrected as insights cemented in the words you publish.

This makes the daily blog much more powerful than it appears.

Yes it’s a communication tool, yes it’s a marketing tool, but more than anything else the daily blog is a tool to create more memories.

Why I ran 4.8 miles on Christmas Morning

christmas_morningI didn’t plan to go for a run on Christmas morning, but I’m sure glad I did. If I didn’t have someone to push me this morning, I am 99.9 percent sure I would’ve ate a bigger breakfast, then took a long slumbering nap (just like I did last year).

Instead, luckily this morning I had my brother-in-law here to motivate me. He challenged me, and I accepted. Within 60 minutes of his challenge, we were out on the road running 4.8 miles together. Not only that, he pushed me to run the fastest pace I’ve run in over 6 months. I would have never did this without him.

I’m sharing this story because this is indicative of how people go from good to great.  When you’re surrounded with like minded people who are motivated to take it to the next level, it’s inevitable that you will do more and do better.

This is a critical lesson to learn.

If you want to do better, surround yourself with people who also want to do better. If you want to push harder, surround yourself with people who will push you harder.  If you want to be held accountable, surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable.

This is a success secret you would be a fool to ignore.

 

 

Reality Check: You must stay the course to achieve your dreams

File:Long Road to Monument Valley.jpgThe only people who achieve their dreams are those who stay the course. All successful people have dreams bigger than themselves and each person faces obstacles on the way to achieve those dreams.

The only difference between those who achieve their dreams and those who don’t is their ability to stay the course.

For example, one of the dreams I’ve had since I turned 30 is to be as fit as I was during wrestling season my senior year of high school.  This may not seem that big to you, but for me this is about life and death.  By the age of 29, I was as unhealthy as I’d ever been gaining over 60 pounds since my senior year in high school, with 30 coming after I graduated from college.

In order to get back to a healthy weight and maintain it, I made a commitment to exercise for at least one hour, at least 4 days a week. Every year since, I’ve gotten thrown off course between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What’s more, I then allow these few weeks of getting off course to derail all the progress I made for the other 10 months of the year.

The only way I can overcome this is to stay the course for 12 months instead of 10.  In order to stay the course in this situation, this year I created a plan that allows me to still enjoy the typical holiday festivities, while keeping my routine.  I shared a bit of that plan here.

Another example is my dream of entrepreneurship. I worked 10 years in corporate America before I was able to quit my job and go after that dream.  For me, staying the course for those 10 years was about living below my means year after year so I could afford to one day quit my job.

So even when I saw many of my colleagues and friends buy big new cars and take fancy vacations, I continued to drive the same used vehicle for 10 years and over 200,000 miles and took modest vacations on a budget.

In the former example I haven’t achieved my dream yet, in the latter I did. In both cases however, it comes down to staying the course.  This means creating a realistic plan to achieve your dream, then sticking with it no matter what obstacles you face.

So here’s the reality check.  If you have a big dream, a dream reserved for the few rather than the many, you will face a few false starts. You will face drama that drags you off course. You will doubt that your plan is even working. It’s going to take longer than you think and it’s going to be harder than you think.  But if you really, truly want it, as long as you get on the course, then do whatever it takes to stay on course, you will achieve whatever dreams you have.

A Simple Idea to Help You Wake up 1 Hour Earlier

File:Windup alarm clock.jpgHave you ever set your alarm clock to wake up one hour earlier, only to hit the snooze button over and over again until your normal wake up time arrives?

You know you should wake-up, but for some reason you just can’t get yourself to do it in that moment of sleepiness.  If this is you, then you need to try this simple idea…

To wakeup without hitting the snooze button, try involving a third-party accountability partner.

For example, if you have a goal to write a book you may initially try to create a plan to wake up an hour early to write everyday.  However, this won’t work.  There is very good chance that you will hit the snooze button because when you do, no one else will know.

What you must do instead is make a commitment to submit your writing on deadline everyday to someone who agrees to call you out if you slack off. Someone you respect.  Someone you would be embarrassed to disappoint. It could be a mentor, a proofreader, or even a spouse or friend.

You may even want to up the ante and agree to pay a penalty fee if you miss your deadline.

You could apply this same idea for waking up 1  hour earlier to almost anything. Working on a business plan, exercising, or even cleaning the house.  Whatever.  Mark my word, having a third-party accountability partner changes the game.  It could possibly change your life too.

The 3 things I did before I quit my job

File:Office-Cubical-5201.jpg
One of the reasons I quit my job was I hated working in those awful cubicals like this one!

I had no idea I was going to quit my job on that faithful day.  Most normal people would never quit their job on an impulse like I did.

As a result, I did not have a chance to do what most experts tell you to do leading up to the moment you quit your job.  I was forced to think on my feet and make some quick moves to put myself in the best possible position.

Here are the three things I did that morning:

1. Took all of my personal belongings to my car

The first thing I did was slowly start cleaning out my cube, moving all of my personal belonging to my car. I’d heard stories of people being escorted out of the building after quitting.  I wanted to prepare for the worst, so I made sure that everything that I wanted to keep was locked up in my car.

2. Cleaned off my computer

The next thing I did was clear the browsing history on my computer, then clean out my email and all of the files on my computer’s hard drive.  This took me over an hour.  I just sat there and diligently went through every little thing on my computer, every folder, every file and every email, making sure everything was squeaky clean.  You never know how fast they will confiscate your computer after you announce you’re quitting. So it’s best to take your time and make sure you do this right.

3. Called my wife

Finally, right before I walked into my manger’s office to give him the news, I called my wife.  The conversation with her went surprisingly smooth. I had been hinting to her that this day was coming, so she wasn’t shocked at all when I told her that today was the day.

After my wife gave me the gumption to follow through with my intent to quit, I had all the confidence in the world that I was making the right move.

A few minutes later, it was a done deal.